I checked Twitter before I read the news this morning, so when I saw a meme about Trump having coronavirus, I assumed it was a joke. Nope — the news broke last night that the president and first lady both tested positive for coronavirus. But a whole lot of people, on both sides of the aisle, are saying Trump’s diagnosis is “fake news.”
Among them are some pretty famous faces, like singer Kelly Rowland, who wrote, “Something just ain’t right!” and dropped a screenshot of the Wikipedia entry for “October surprise” in her Instagram stories.
There are plenty of… reasons so many people are skeptical of Trump’s diagnosis. Way over on the fringes of right-wing conspiracy theorists are the QAnon hordes, who say having coronavirus is the president’s cover story while he’s off vanquishing child-abusing elites. A more tempered speculation is proliferating among progressives, that Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis is a lie intended to muster sympathy among voters and rescue his flagging poll numbers.
Screenwriter and prominent Trump critic David Simon (The Wire) tweeted: "Honestly, when a man lies so damn much, am I wrong to imagine another cry of wolf for an October surprise? That Trump is claiming a positive test, will present as asymptomatic, or claim himself cured with bleach, then dismiss COVID again as a Democratic hoax? I'm wrong, right?" He later clarified he was trying to comment on the atmosphere of suspicion stoked by Trump’s presidency.
Simon was hinting at the factual finding that the single biggest promoter of coronavirus falsehoods is Trump himself. Researchers at Cornell University analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic and linked the president to 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” according to a study released this week.
Michael Moore is among the other influential figures chiming in about whether to believe Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. “There is one absolute truth about Trump: He is a consistent, absolute, unrelenting, fearless, and professional liar. A serial liar. A factually proven liar,” the filmmaker wrote in a lengthy “Note of Covid Caution” on Facebook this morning. “So why on earth would we believe him today? Has he earned your trust now? No.”
Here’s a smattering of the other speculations being traded by famous folks today: